Staff Management

The Benefits that Helped Me Attract & Keep Employees During the Great Resignation

Dr. Holland (center, back row) with his practice team. Dr. Holland says the benefits he offers make a huge difference to staff recruitment and retention and profitability.

Dr. Holland (center, back row) with his practice team. Dr. Holland says the benefits he offers make a huge difference to staff recruitment and retention and profitability.

Benefits that create the long-lasting team you and your patients need.

By Zachary Holland, OD, FSLS

April 17, 2024

When you have a great team in place you want to keep them for as long as possible. I purchased a 10-year-old practice in 2020, around the start of the pandemic.

The first years of my practice also coincided with what some have called the Great Resignation, when it became much more difficult than it had been in the past to recruit and retain employees.

Revenue growth can be difficult to correlate to one specific cause, especially staffing. In my case, I added multiple additional services, but clinical culture and ability to delegate tasks to staff definitely aided in our revenue growth.

In three years, we have grown $999,000 in total without adding another doctor or expanding our current doctors’ clinical hours.

Here are the benefits I offer to my employees that attract a great, long-lasting support team that has contributed to our profitability.

All Employees Are Full-Time & All Get Benefits

My team consists of six full-time employees (for one OD) who work in: front desk/check-in, check-out/insurance, optician/contact lens coordinator, clinical assistant, clinical assistant/study coordinator and office administrator. All of these employees get equal benefits.

What Do They Get?

I intentionally created an office with unique benefits for both myself and my team, which is a key advantage of owning your own practice. We offer the typical healthcare/dental/vision/paid time off/sick time that most full-time employers offer, along with these extra benefits:

A Favorable Work Schedule with Nights and Weekends Off

Probably, the best advice I ever received was, “Specialists don’t work nights and weekends.” For that reason, my office closes at 5 p.m. Monday through Thursday, and we close at noon on Fridays. This allows my staff to be home with their families for dinner every night, and to attend any evening events their children may have. With this schedule, my employees and I enjoy a 2.5 day weekend every week.

Incentive Gifts & Travel

At year’s end I try to do something special for employees if we’ve had a good year. Two years ago I bought MacBooks for each employee, and last year I covered a five-day paid vacation to a continuing education conference in Las Vegas that was focused on specialty contact lenses, which my practice specializes in. The trip was both an educational and a team-building event as we went out as a team a few nights.

I have given $50 gift cards to nail salons, and $100 bills when my staff was talking about movies they wanted to go see.

Monetary Bonuses

Bonuses were a source of frustration when I was an associate, and even as an owner. The magnitude of the bonuses felt random as an associate. As an owner, they were given based on my personal cash flow at the time, which was unfair to my hardworking team.

So, in 2021, I changed up the bonus system to be specifically based on clinical growth.

Each employee gets a bonus of 1 percent of gross revenue increase per quarter compared to the previous year’s equivalent quarter. Last year this was typically between $100 and $1,000 per employee.

Fortunately, the clinic has more than doubled in gross revenue in three years, and we are adding another doctor in a few months. So, I expect revenue growth to continue and bonuses to keep flowing!

The beauty of this system is that it is 100 percent measurable and easily tracked by everyone. Each employee can view the clinic’s gross revenue in real time. It is tracked regularly, so the decision of “how much to bonus” is taken out of my hands.

All employees contribute to the success of the clinic equally, so we don’t differentiate between an “optical bonus” for opticians or “Optos bonus” for technicians. It all goes into a single pot where opticians, technicians and billers are all working toward the singular financial goal of revenue growth. This system also puts in place a level of peer-to-peer accountability.

Offering a bonus structure based on increased revenue essentially funds itself. I can easily budget for bonuses as they only occur in growth times. The typical optometric profit is somewhere between 25-35 percent of gross revenue. The profitability of growth is significantly higher, especially if this revenue is generated by services and not materials.

For instance, if I generate $100,000 more this quarter, my profitability on that growth is significantly higher, as my largest expenses (rent/payroll) are fixed and do not increase if service revenue increases. I also do employee reviews with raises in October, so employees can see an increase in their wages prior to the winter holidays.

Team-Building Exercises

We participated together in an “escape room” exercise in which you work as a team to figure a way out of a locked room, which was both fun and honed our collaboration skills. We also had an “art outing” where we all created our own project with the help of experts at a local art business.

Healthcare Coverage

I pay 50 percent of healthcare premiums per employee.

Profit Sharing

I set up a profit sharing 401k where I can contribute to my employees’ 401k in excess of their own contributions. There are many rules to doing this, so you should speak to a financial advisor if this interests you.

The profit-sharing contributions require vesting, so they will only be retained by staff members who stay with me for at least five years. These rules vary by plan, so talk to your financial advisor on how to set up a plan to best suit your office. I valued vesting, along with the benefits, to the owner, myself.

Stave Off Talent Poachers

Many members of my team have told me that they were offered positions outside my practice for higher pay. They know I can’t match that higher pay, but said they chose to stay with me because of the great working hours and the lack of micromanagement and our many other benefits.

Be Kind

I often spend more time with my employees than I do with my family. Be generous and help in emergencies without questions. I gave a few-thousand-dollar car to an employee whose daughter was in desperate need of an upgrade. This helped to create loyalty and longevity with this employee, and I was happy to be in a position to help when needed.

Zachary Holland, OD, FSLS, is the owner of Cornea & Contact Lens Institute of Minnesota. To contact him: 


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